LogMeIn is well-known software that allows you to access your computer from remote locations using either mobile devices or another computer. The company’s Hamachi offering is slightly less well-known, because it is tailored toward business users, but if you have the need to network multiple computers together securely as a personal user, it might be worth a look.
What it does
LogMeIn Hamachi allows you to create a VPN – virtual private network. While you might be familiar with VPNs as a way to tunnel into the internet from a remote location to guard your privacy, in this case, the VPN is used to create a network accessible by a particular group of users.
Upon launching the very bare-bones software, you simply navigate to Network/Create A New Network, enter a password, and click Create. Once the network is formed, clicking on Manage/Manage Networks will take you to a web-based portal where you can control the network.
One of the key elements that can be set here is the type of network you’d like to create. A mesh network allows every computer to see the information on every other computer that’s part of the network. The hub-and-spoke option provides a central hub to which all users can connect. This is a slightly more restrictive network because each user does not have access to the other users. Finally, a gateway network can be established, which allows all users to log in through a single computer that acts as a portal to the entire physical network.
In all cases, users receive the benefit of a LAN (local area network) that typically is connected via cables, wirelessly and offsite through the internet.
The web portal also allows you to add other users to the network either by sending invites allowing other users to download the software to their computers, or sending downloadable configuration files to mobile users. The mobile configurations are a bit complicated, so unless you have a knack for this sort of thing, you’ll do best with the computer-to-computer networks.
Hamachi works on up to five computers absolutely free, so getting this type of big office functionality at no cost is clearly a major benefit. Beyond that, the software also protects communications using industry standard AES 256-bit encryption, so every user on a network gets the automatic privacy protection that this conveys.
Beyond the free version of the software, Hamachi also comes in a Standard package ($49/year) that allows up to 32 computers to access a network; a Premium package ($199/year) that grants access for up to 256 computers; and a Multi-Network plan ($299/year) that allows unlimited access.